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DUM Biryani House

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by Shikainah Champion-Samuel (subscribe)
A great believer in exploring the off beat, non-touristy things hidden inside every city. For my professional practice check
Published October 21st 2019
The king of Indian food in Central London
So, this weekend found me and the family in DUM Biryani House in Soho, London. It was an event we knew would inevitably happen - ever since we had heard about this place. We just needed an excuse and with a birthday and a wedding anniversary, we thought it would be the perfect excuse to make a meal of it (no pun intended).

Dum' is an Indian word referring to the method of cooking by sealing the rice and meat in a flour pastry case. The result is what my 11 year old called a 'biriyani pot pie'. On the subject of that amazing kingly dish of layered rice and meat, I have to say there are several interpretations of this in various regions of the Indian subcontinent. Even among the diners in our group, each of us either were experts in cooking a particular style or had strong views based on past experiences in India.

Today, we ordered the quintessential Lamb shank biriyani and the seafood biriyani. Additionally, we ordered a portion of parathas (wholemeal flatbread) along with a mango fish curry. There was a type of fusion meal for the 11 year old- a masala mutton fry in a toasted brioche bun.

We had just about finished dissecting the decor of the place which had a tongue-in-cheek genre of humour based on Indian idiosyncrasies when our food arrived. So, quite a short wait, the lamb shank biriyani was encased in a puff pastry case sprinkled with nigella seeds. The seafood one had king prawns, calamari and portions of some white fish.
The titular dish itself

From the seas

The rice and meat were perfectly cooked, though perhaps because the lamb shank occupied most of the dish, there weren't many pieces of meat as such. Personally, I rated the seafood biriyani higher in taste. Both of them came with the usual accompaniments to such fare- a yoghurt relish, poppadoms, a vegetarian sauce etc.

The mango fish curry was mild and went well with the parathas. The mutton fry for the bun was delicious.

As I am native to India, perhaps my spice threshold is much higher than most. So, I felt the dishes could have been a bit spicier. The bill for the 6 of us came to a 130 which wasn't bad considering it is a Central London joint featured by BBC's Good Food magazine.

Nobody but the youngest in the group wanted desserts. As such, there are only two desserts to choose from. She opted for a baked mango yoghurt pudding flavoured with rose petals, pistachio nuts et al. It was accompanied by a gulab jamun which is a fried sweet dough ball dipped in sugar syrup. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I did sample a bit of the yoghurt thing and would say that it was passably ok. Not bad, not good, just ok. But then again, the restaurant's claim to fame lies in its biriyani and not its sweetmeats!

It had a good family feel about it and the fact we were given a private room made it extra special. It would be something certainly keeping in mind for a special occasion.
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Why? An opportunity to check out the king of Indian dishes
When: Check website for timings
Phone: See website
Where: 187B Wardour St. London, W1F 8ZB
Cost: Main dish costs 21
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